Comic Book Review: Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original #1
This December will mark 2 years since the final episode of Sons of Anarchy aired on FX. In the time since, series creator Kurt Sutter has launched a new television show, a new comic book series (“Lucas Stand”) and BOOM! Studios has ended their ongoing comic book series. This week, writer Ollie Masters, artist Luca Pizzari and colorist Adam Metcalfe take us to the beginning of the beginning with “Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original” #1.
For a short time, there was talk of a television series that would explore the history of SAMCRO and the original nine. “Redwood Original” #1 isn’t that but it’s a similar approach. Instead of taking us back to the creation of the club, we’re taken to the beginning of Jax Teller’s story. The story begins with Jax saying goodbye to Tara, his high school girlfriend who is presumably (if you’ve watched the show) off to college. Jax is understandably heartbroken and he begins to throw himself into SAMCRO and takes on more risk filled jobs in order to earn his patch.
Like most licensed properties, this is not a book for someone looking to just grab something new off the shelf. It’s an easy enough story to follow but there is some great added context and emotional response from having the future of Jax already known. What’s important about writing something like this is the way the characters the sound. Masters nails this, particularly with Jax. By the end of the series, we’d seen Jax become President of SAMCRO and with that he grew into a capable leader who could get the club out of basically any jam. It sometimes became a bit unbelievable but it did add an element to him that Clay didn’t have. In “Redwood Original” #1, we can see the anger in Jax that eventually needs to be tamed. We can see his desire to do more with the club and we can his loyalty. His relationship with Clay is shown a bit and through one particular conversation, there’s a ton to unload in regards to what happens in the future. There’s tension there that will eventually explode. Although it’s a strange way to describe this, it’s kind of fun to see the club back together again, in a time before everything went wrong with the Teller/Morrow family.
Sons of Anarchy had a very specific visual tone. It was a series that took place in a small, western city with a violent, mean streak in it. Pizzari’s art is stylized just enough to fit this. The character designs are close to the likenesses of the actors but doesn’t veer into the photorealism realm. You know instantly who each character is but there’s attention paid to making them all look younger and less experienced. Jax looks like a high school kid and Opie doesn’t even look like the same guy (in a good way). There’s a great use of shadows in the inking that hints at the darker things that are to come and the action sequences near the end flow in a really dynamic way. Metcalfe’s colors also feel very in line with what the show did and it’s easy to see some of those influences. I particularly like the night time events at the clubhouse because the down and dirty feel of being in this gang.
“Redwood Original” #1 is a really solid start to what should be an enjoyable prequel to the television series. The character voices sound right and the art has a great sense of style to it. “Redwood Original” has the potential to fill the void the television has left behind for fans.